I´m sure every working parent agrees that childcare is a topic very close to the heart. I enjoy my job (mostly) and I certainly have to work as money is tight nowadays, despite having two incomes. But recently I keep wondering what it would be like to be a full-time mum again? Don´t get me wrong, I did stay at home for the first couple of years with each child, the last two overlapping. And truth to be known, I got bored having coffee afternoons talking nappies (diapers) all the time.
When I first went back to work full-time, my parents used to pick up the kids from school/kindergarten and looked after them until I came home from work between 17:00 – 18:00 hr at night.
Then, a couple of years ago, my dad was ill and we decided that the strain of having two lively boys around was too much so I started looking into childcare.
I didn´t much fancy the idea of my boys staying at school in the afternoon, for one because it is not like the British full-day school system, nor is it properly thought of and developed over here. And secondly, having frequently to work late evenings, afternoon school which closes at 16:00 hr is just no good to me.
I was lucky to bring up the subject at a parents get-together where another mother mentioned that she is a qualified and state certified child-minder. She had (and has) a daughter in middle CB´s class and to cut a long story short, my boys have been going there in the afternoons ever since.
Over the years, we have developed a close friendship, so have our kids and even our husbands.
She picks up my boys from school, feeds them, supervises their homework, does art projects, gardening, swimming in her pool… everything. And if I have to work late and neither big CB or Mr CB are free to pick up the kids… so be it, they can just stay on for as long as it takes. And best of all, my boys love her to bits.
Needless to say, childcare like that is normally very expensive. Luckily, or so I thought, the German Government kindly offers the opportunity to pay some of the fees for working parents. basically, I pay the social a set fee every months, calculated on both my husbands and my income, regardless of school holidays, illness, days off or what and in turn, they pay the child-minder.
Sounds perfect, doesn´t it? Only… I did not know that these child-minders are obliged to be “self-employed”
I pay the social – every months – but they only pay the childminder for the actual hours worked. Sounds reasonable you think? Right, but they have to pay all social security contributions, insurances, pension fund, medical insurance, all the things the employer would normally pay (or at least a percentage) if she weren´t self-employed. Additionally, she has to pay for the lunches, petrol, paper, pens, all the stuff kids need.
Guess what the hourly rate is? – Do you know the current price of a packet of cigarettes in Germany… need I say more… that´s gross of course, before taxes!!
And to top it all, if the parents decide not to bring their kids for a couple of days or at all at short notice then that´s tough on here, she´ll lose the money but still has the same outgoings.
Now tell me, is that fair? How much does our society value children, how much does our Government really care for their future voters? How can I continue working if my child-minder and close friend has to give up her “business” which, by the way, she loves doing, because her outgoings way exceed her income.
When I first started looking for a job, I was drawn to so-called “400 Euro” jobs, apparently “created” by the Government especially for mums wanting to work part-time. As long as the income does not exceed 400 Euro per months or the equivalent over the period of a year, the money is non-taxable (more or less). Turns out that one has to be flexible for those jobs, preferably being able to work shifts – duude, what about the kids? Oh yeah, tough luck!!
I´m sorry if I am rumbling on and I´m not even quite sure If you are getting my drift here, if it makes sense what I´m writing, I am just soo p…ed of which our system, so hurt for my friend and so worried about my kids if she has to give up her job.
Maybe I shouldn´t wonder what it would be like to be a full-time mum again, maybe I´ll soon be one again, if my friend quits, because there is no way I´ll let my kids run the streets or be home alone in the afternoons.